Strange stuff

The Five Weirdest Learning Courses


Image via Flickr creative commons from Arbron

The common story goes that more and more people are going to university nowadays. While there are two opposing camps on just how many people are going to university – whether it is half or less of the population – it remains that more people than ever are deciding to continue learning beyond 18 and enter higher education.

At the same time, the number of people who want to return to education and take up a home learning course is rising.

Perhaps inevitably, the number of courses has been rapidly increasing at the same time. Now, to accompany the traditional topics of English, economics or the sciences, you have a wide array of bizarre subjects to choose from. David Beckham studies anyone?

David Beckham Studies

Introduced in a whirlwind of press attention in 2000, this University of Staffordshire course module focussed on the on and off field career of one of the most recognisable footballers of 20th and  21st centuries. The course it was part of was Football Culture which can still be studied. The Beckham module, unfortunately, no longer exists.

Philosophy and Star Trek

Students at the University of Georgetown can study hard and prosper with a degree the cult TV show. It asks questions such as ‘Is time travel possible?’ and ‘Could we go back and kill our grandmothers?’.

According to the US education establishment: “Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class (and on Blackboard)? That’s the plan.”

Learn the Jedi Way

Offered by the Queens University Belfast, this open course taught real-life psychological techniques behind Jedi mind tricks. Named Feel the Force: How to Train in the Jedi Way, it claimed to examine the “wider issues behind the Star Wars universe, like balance, destiny, dualism, fatherhood and fascism”.

The course blurb informed students that light sabres would not be provided.

Horse Whispering

Well, not quite horse whispering in the way we have seen a young Scarlett Johansson do it, this is Equestrian Psychology. The course, offered by Glyndwr University in Wrexham investigates the unique partnership between horse and rider. To enable this, students develop an understanding of horse behaviour, human psychology and horse-human interdependence. The 12 month course also covers equine welfare, horse behaviour, learning and training of horses and will enable students to develop coaching skills.

Lady Gaga

Offered in 2011, professor at the University of South Carolina Mathieu Deflem originally planned just to include a module on pop icon Lady Gaga in the course Sociology of Fame or the Sociology of Celebrity.

“Then I thought, ‘Oh, what the hell? Let’s make the whole freaking course about Lady Gaga and her rise to fame’,” he said.

“We’re going to look at Lady Gaga as a social event,” Prof Deflem added at the time. “So it’s not the person, and it’s not the music. It’s more this thing out there in society that has 10 million followers on Facebook and six million on Twitter. I mean, that’s a social phenomenon.”


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